Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Photo: Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, and Gale Anne Hurd at Comic-Con 2013

The man behind the curtain on The Walking Dead Season 4 gets to stay behind the curtain for Season 5, and possibly beyond.

Scott Gimple appears to have mastered the showrunner formula that claimed the jobs of original leader Frank Darabont and his No. 2, Glen Mazzara. Scott was Glen’s own No. 2, best known before taking over the show for writing great episodes like Season 2’s “Pretty Much Dead Already” (Sophia in the barn) and Season 3’s “Clear” (Morgan goes cray-cray).

The first half of Season 4 has been intriguing and we’re curious to see how the second half juggles all the various storylines. The producers and cast have praised the strong writing this season, especially in the back half, which launches February 9. It’s their job to promote the show, but if The Powers That Be didn’t like the direction, we’d be reading a press release by now about the new showrunner.

So what did Scott do to earn himself the final rose? Entertainment Weekly asked AMC President Charlie Collier and programming head Joel Stillerman what Scott is bringing to the table that’s working.

“What’s remarkable about Scott, among other things, is he’s a fan first,” Charlie told EW. “He’s done a great job as a showrunner, he’s broken [ratings] records, but we geek out first — and that’s remarkably refreshing. He understands the material in a very personal way. He services moments right out of the comic so beautifully and he works well with [comic creator] Robert Kirkman and also is a terrific writer of character. I think he has brought you as close to these characters as you’ve ever been.”

Scott came into the show as a serious Walking Dead comics fanboy; he and Robert Kirkman have said in previous interviews that Scott is the one who tends to argue to stick to the storyline in the books while Robert likes to mix things up more with new directions. But whenever anyone talks about Scott, they always talk about his focus on character.

As Joel added, “I also think he wanted to up the ante in terms of the serialized character storytelling. What he really wanted to do is embrace some of the techniques you’d see in Mad Men, where a little piece of character storytelling gets laid in an early episode and then 10 episodes later — and you’ll see a lot of that in the back eight — where things set up character-wise percolate and then explode. One of my favorite things that he says about The Walking Dead is the show is at its best when the action and emotion climax simultaneously. And that’s what he’s really great at — making sure the action beats don’t feel gratuitous, it has to happen in a moment where it has maximum emotional connection.”

We can’t wait to see these percolating character moments explode! Maybe for Tyreese (Chad Coleman) with Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride)? Something with Lizzie Samuels (Brighton Sharbino)? The mysteries around Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.)?

Do you think Scott has been doing a good job of steering the ship so far? The second half will be really telling, especially if it’s tied so closely to nuggets dropped in the first half.

The Walking Dead Season 4 returns with Episode 9 on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

Source: Entertainment Weekly